Are You a Career Superstar or Has Been? Follow These Career Tips to Keep You On Top

Ask any athlete whose career is on the rise. The adrenaline rush comes from reaching for the top.  Every day is about putting it all out there for the team, themselves, the fans, and the games they love. Winning is the driver; the measure of their contribution and achievement.

Their personal value rises when they:

  • win a championship
  • get selected for the All-Star Team
  • receive Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors

There’s nothing quite like attaining this type of superstar status, especially in our careers. It’s exciting, often representing a reward for years of struggle and hard work.

The moment we’re tapped as “best” is when our career life changes.

The meaning of the moment

When we’re recognized, we’re elated. We relish the:

  • Recognition of our value in the work place
  • The next opportunity to showcase our talents
  • Access to company leaders
  • Deference and/or congratulations from our peers

At work superstars are usually considered “up and comers”—high potential performers and next in line for promotion. In short, they’re the company’s MVPs.  Their status is generally achieved through performance results over time and the endorsement of the leadership, not always in equal measure.

Basically: Someone thinks you have “it” and the company wants to put “it” to the test and benefit from the outcome.

Sustaining momentum

Superstar status raises the bar. When a broader audience starts paying attention to you, there’s pressure to perform at a higher level.

Superstar moments launch new expectations for more and better performance like:

  • Delivering significant outcomes on more complex projects
  • Assuming greater levels of authority and responsibility
  • Demonstrating tolerance for stress and the ability to perform under fire
  • Engaging effectively with powerful influencers
  • Negotiating with high profile customers or political officials

You know what happens in sports: Last year’s MVP needs to increase on-field performance or hear about how he has declined.

Once we’re designated as a high potential player at work, if we don’t live up to expectations, we can fall out of favor and see our careers go downhill.

Avoiding being tagged “has been”

It’s difficult to get recognized as a top performer and even harder to sustain it.

In our jobs, success measures combine the objective and the subjective, the concrete and the abstract. But they count just as much as batting averages or yards per carry.

To keep your superstar status up, these actions are essential:

Remain relevant—Keep your knowledge, skills, and experiences ahead of the curve by staying up on security, innovation, business, economic issues, and industry challenges; be the voice of “what’s coming in security”

Maintain strong connections—Leverage is essential; Build, tighten, and expand your relationships in every direction, both inside and outside your company; create allies and be one

Over-deliver—Make sure the results you and/or your security team produce exceed expectations without exceeding costs, always improving the process

Engage employees—The ability to build and sustain a positive, can-do group of employees, engaged in their work, performing professionally, with little drama, and without giving away the store cements your value

Stay in the mix—Be there – make sure you have a seat at the table. It helps to be likeable, a source of proper levity, and a voice of reason at the same time. When decisions don’t feel right to others unless you’ve been consulted, that’s a good sign.

Keep a clear head

The rarefied air of superstardom at work can muddle our thinking and inflate our ego to dangerous levels unless we’re careful. Being recognized is important and when we get it, we should enjoy and value it. Our next moves, though, need to be informed and steady. Getting to the top is only the first step. Staying there is often the bigger one.

Make a commitment to yourself and go for it!

David Lammert

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